Artist and songwriter Tony Thanos, lead singer and guitarist for Lockjaw Smile, has recently released his debut solo EP entitled El Gordo Sapo. The project brings through an immediately calming balance between indie-rock vocals, engaging melodies, thoughtful writing, and a slight Americana twang – all of which proves quickly appealing, creating an organic ambiance before you and introducing the artist as deeply passionate and considerate when it comes to writing and performance.
Social Sidewinder opens the project up and seems like the perfect starting point. The song evolves to become fairly cinematic – the sound is huge, multi-layered and reminiscent of the kind of soundscape you might find in a Tarantino flick, yet with a notably raw and full instrumental set-up. Meanwhile that voice adds a level of realness and accessibility, and these lyrics fascinate – so much so that the song begs for you to delve back in once more before you progress through the rest of the EP. Brilliant songwriting, and a really likable, authentic rock sound with plenty of character.
Thanos’ writing style is increasingly conceptual, poetic, and provocative, throughout this EP. Little Place follows the opener, seeing the vocal stand a little taller amidst a softer soundscape to begin with. Then you get these poetic ideas, inviting deeper thought, and later an unexpected switch from mildly melancholic to uplifting and hopeful as the hook settles in. The second verse is then stunning, intriguing and powerful – Never ever change, No matter how sweet the risk is... – and the hook subsequently shines a little more brightly with each reappearance. A beautiful song.
Midnight Sun swings into view with a great sense of rhythm. That groove and the flow of the voices is easily immersive, a really satisfying melodic development again tips its hat to some classic indie rock writing from the nineties. Uniquely creative drum-work and soundscape building helps keep that thread of creative freedom at the forefront of everything Tony Thanos writes. We’ve been running to escape it all echoes out in a striking way – a simple but addictive and memorable moment. Thanos is a master of finding the right way to say things, simple yet captivating, and the right melody to really drive it home.
Amped Up adds a level of brightness and energy that begs for you to witness it in a live setting – the horns, the short verse lines – the whole thing brings through an anthem-like level of unity. Kind Lies then utilizes contrast well to break things down to the bare essentials. That musicality again feels fit for something like a Godfather flick, yet with that you get these pondering thoughts, and that relatable, welcoming indie voice that lets it all connect in a natural way. This song is something of a grower, the project is so loaded with great moments that this feels a little quieter, but it kicks in more and more so as it progresses.
The EP comes to a close with the dramatic and piano-led set-up of a near-whispered Breakaway. This slower paced ballad leaves a lasting impression thanks to the detail and scene-setting – your focus is on the voice, up front and personal, and that story-line holds tight to your interest right the way through. Gorgeous vocal work emerges as the performance moves along – a passionate and fairly raw moment that Tony Thanos handles incredibly well. This one stands out for its quiet and compelling sense of intimacy and power combined. There’s so much passion and heart and desperation in the performance, and this is all that’s needed to let the song reach out and grab you. A great way to finish – highlighting yet another side to the artist.
El Gordo Sapo is a brilliant EP, every song seems like a slept-on hit, a fusion of past and present, with various genres subtly incorporated. A pleasure to stumble upon.